February 10, 2013
This book aimed to give glimpses of lives of former monarch & royalties in exile from the eyes of their fellows.The author was Grand Duke Alexander of Russia; a nephew of Alexander II; son in law of Alexander III & brother in law of assassinated last Emperor of Russia. He was related to each royal house of Europe except Belgium & Habsburg.
Essentially, HIH was very much qualified to write this book down. Being through the revolution himself, his relatives assassinated, their personal properties confiscated & force to leave his motherland enabled him to related to the feelings & experiences of those landless royals. It lent him deep understanding of fear, feeling of lost,; low self esteem; musunderstood; loss of privillage & difficulties of adjusting to new modes of life.
Yet by not being sovereign himself; he was able to see the mistakes of rulers; why they failed & whats made the revolutionists appealed to mass. He spoke these on brutal honest way. Some of them:
1) Hatred - the personal hatred of Wilhelm II to every aspects of his uncle King Edward VII engineered him to engaged war on British Empire.
2) Love - According to him, love to consort costing the throne & country. Nicholas II for the loves of the Empress, led him to be influenced by Rasputin. We all knew the rests. Then, the Emperor abdicate his crown to be with family. Thus the legacy of Romanovs vanished in dusts.
3) Victims of their own phraseology "Lets the people judge my action" - Over estimated the intelligence of their own subject. At the time with communication, education, & techological facilities reached minimum percentage of population; great motto couldnt be made understood & ignited by passion for greater empire, faithful alliance. Peoples were concerned of means to fill their empty stomach. Thus the success of revolutionaries came by their understanding of people plights & whats appealed to them.
4) Too nice & too democratic - Given too many voice & power to people will cause the sovereign being overthrowned. Alphonso XIII is the best example. At best the king will have to maintain silence on matters he saw necessary to intervene since constitutional monarch had to follow people will. In other word powerless.
The author have the privillage of meeting Alphonso XIII on exile on Fontainbleau. So he included 25% of this book to this. The issues comprised of philosophy, personality,understanding, way of thinking, observation, vision, feeling & new mode of life of the absence King of Spain was written by conversational way.
Grand Duke Alexander covering quite alot of exiled personage. Some were given brief coverage while some were extensive. Some of them:
1) Alphonso XIII of Spa
2) Crown Prince Freidrich Wilhelm of Prussia -the most financialky independent pretender.
3) Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey
4) Grand Duke Cyril of Russia -
5) Wilhelm II - Turned downed invitation for restoration of German Empirical throne in favor to his son. Settling down at Huiz Doorn, chopping wood as favorite pastime.
6) Empress Zita of Austria - Who never forget that she was Bourbon by birth, a Habsburg by marriage.
The book also analyzed how the British Monarchy managed to survive all the revolutions from Queen Victoria, King Edward VII & King George V. He presented his analysis of political acumen, great knowledge & intelligent, discreet leadership of this trio of sovereign that help sustaining not only the constitutional monarch herself but also stability of Great Britain & her empire. To sum it up, the personal abilities of sovereign overrode the readiness to follow constitution.
This book bring new insights to me